Eric Clark, born in1985, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with both college and university honors in May of 2007. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music performance at the same school, studying with Sergey Schepkin. He completed his undergraduate studies with pianist Enrique Graf.
Eric performs frequently in the Pittsburgh area, giving solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and playing as orchestral pianist for the CMU Philharmonic, which performed last year at Heinz Hall, in Pittsburgh, and at Severance Hall, in Cleveland. Eric has performed in master classes at Carnegie Mellon with pianists Earl Wild, Ilana Vered, and Awadagin Pratt.
In November of 2006, Eric performed Bach's Concerto for Two Keyboards in C Major BWV 1061, which was broadcast live on WQED, the classical music radio station in Pittsburgh. In July of 2006, Eric performed the Haydn Piano Concerto in D major as part of the music festival of Montecastello de Vibio, Italy, performing with the Sinfonia Perugina.
Eric received the first place at the 2006 and 2007 MTNA Pennsylvania competition and also received the second place in the MTNA Eastern Division competition in January of both 2007 and 2008. He also won second place in the Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania Competition for 2007 and 2008. Playing the Franck Piano Quintet, Eric’s chamber ensemble won Carnegie Mellon’s Silberman Chamber Music Competition in April of 2007.
“I have many interests which include painting, drawing, composing, 19th and 20th century philosophy, physics, golf and long-distance running. I started at Carnegie Mellon in the fall of ‘03 as a double major in chemistry and piano, but quickly realized that music would have to be my career. Pretty soon I found myself procrastinating math and science homework in favor of much more enjoyable hours of practicing, which I could never do without. My teacher, Enrique Graf, was also really encouraging, which made me feel more confident about dropping the double major to concentrate on music. When I look back to my teenage years and high school, I realize that while I really wanted to be a pianist, the educational surroundings were focused heavily towards science, math etc., which seemed to make a career as a pianist sound like a distant dream. Sure, I had my weekly lessons and I practiced a great deal (especially on weekends), but my high school had virtually no appreciation for classical music, meaning my time there was taken up by the other subjects. Plus, I thought there must be thousands of kids out there who just practice 8 hours a day, and so I felt I wouldn’t measure up. It wasn’t only that I didn’t have enough time to practice, but I knew that I didn’t receive the early rigorous training necessary, and so I was at a technical disadvantage. While I started playing by ear at five, I had inconsistent and at times incompetent training, and it wasn’t until 13, right before entering high school, that I finally found a piano teacher that got me on the right track. So I started playing early, but I was nevertheless a late-starter as far as technique and repertoire. I did improve by leaps and bounds from 13 onwards, and this was not only because of my teacher, but because of the awesome impact the recordings of great pianists had on me, particularly in discovering Richter, Horowitz, Argerich, and Gould. I became totally enamored of the music and the pianists, and strove to emulate the artistry that I heard. Still, the feeling of having to play “catch-up” with the pianists who were prodigies remained for years, right into college, when I would wonder how I measured up to pianists at “real conservatories.”
As for being a concert pianist, I know how hard it is and I am realistic about the challenges, especially considering how many more accomplished pianists there are today (just look on Youtube). After many considerations, I realize that there are many different degrees of being a “concert pianist,” and that I shouldn’t feel so worried about the pressure to “make it” as I used to a year ago. Nevertheless, I do intend to participate in many more competitions in the future.
I also aspire to take advantage of the time we are living in, and the changes that are taking place in the way people access and listen to music; websites like this one are great for bringing classical music to people who might otherwise never think of going to a symphony concert.” ~Eric Clark